Dual Diagnosis Treatment Must Address Both Substance Abuse and Mental Illness
High quality treatment will integrate both disorders in the recovery process, rather than have the patient work on each disorder separately.
Addressing both addiction related disorders together recognizes that both have a powerful impact on the addict’s life, and may even have positive synergistic effects when it comes to treating them. Substance Abuse Treatment will often target common symptoms of the disorders, such as negative mood or impulse control problems.
Treatment should also inspire incentives for change in order to keep dual diagnosis patients engaged. Because prescription drugs provide instantaneous positive effects, it is important that addiction treatment help the patient find their own alternative incentives and rewards for recovery.
A dual diagnosis of substance abuse and another mental disorder brings with it many special challenges to the individual, their families and friends. The presence of a dual diagnosis may complicate the course of treatment somewhat but, with better understanding and education, this critical condition can be successfully recovered from.
Dual Diagnosis Has Adverse Physical Effects
The health consequences of a dual diagnosis depend on both the substance being abused and the mental disorder present. Each disorder may increase the negative effects of the other, leading to compounded symptoms of both. Because a person with a dual diagnosis of addiction and depression can experience more extreme and chronic symptoms, they may be more likely to neglect personal care.
Stigma in Drug rehab Care
Stigma can also contribute toward patients not getting effective care for one or more of their mental health conditions.
Substance abuse can often be stigmatized in other psychiatric treatment settings, and in addiction treatment settings, other mental health concerns can be pushed to the back burner. The ability to get integrated care for one person is a major challenge.
Stigma is a significant concern for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. This makes it even more important for patients to get proper addiction treatment where the substance use disorder is treated with the same respect and attention as other mental health disorders.
“Large amounts of data showing that people with substance addictions are treated differently. “If people expect that they will not be treated well if their provider knows they have a substance-related problem, that’s a significant barrier.”
Treating Co-Occurring Conditions Together
Aside from helping to ensure that patients get care for all of their conditions, there is another critical reason to get concurrent and integrated care , complex symptoms.
“The treatment facilities that do this really well are those that treat all of a patient’s conditions at the same time and in the same place, preferably with the same provider or team of providers,” said McHugh. This is ideal “because it’s impossible for us to pull out one disorder, pull out the other one, and treat them as two distinct entities—because they never are. There is a lot of overlap and a lot of intersection between symptoms.”
Co-occurring disorders can also feed off each other. She explained that when the symptoms of one condition improve, the symptoms of the other(s) often worsen.
“For some people, it can almost feel like whack-a-mole. You get one thing under control, and the other pops back up. If someone’s drinking, that can mask the anxiety. But if you stop drinking, the anxiety comes back up. That’s why it’s so hard to treat one and then the other.”